tsetse-fly

Sleeping Sickness

Tireless effort is crucial to eliminate human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in the world. For more than a century, ITM has been playing its part.

Towards the elimination of sleeping sickness

For more than 100 years, ITM has been putting its scientific expertise at the service of the fight against sleeping sickness or human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). The disease occurs to this day, primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The institute developed the world's most widely used sleeping sickness test decades ago and still produces it today. In addition, ITM is fully engaged in the research and development of new diagnostic tests, mainly the molecular kind. Those will play an important role in the new phase of sleeping sickness monitoring. 

ITM plays a leading role in supporting sleeping sickness control programmes in the DRC. Together with Congolese and international partners, the institute succeeded in drastically reducing the annual number of sleeping sickness cases, reaching the first goal of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate sleeping sickness as a public health problem in the country. The ultimate goal of the intensive sleeping sickness control programmes is to stop the transmission of the disease completely by 2030, by interrupting the transmission of the parasite between the tsetse fly and humans.

All HAT control projects are funded by the Belgian government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and are coordinated by ITM. They were renewed in 2021.

Units

Labs

  • WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training on human African trypanosomiasis diagnostics

Discover our laboratories

Partners in Congo

International partners

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Impact Story

Test for sleeping sickness developed and manufactured by ITM

For decades, a sleeping sickness test has been used all over the world that ITM not only developed but also manufactures to this day.

Research themes

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    Neglected (tropical) diseases are high on the agenda. For many years, ITM has been actively involved in research on NTDs, in particular on leishmaniasis, leprosy and sleeping sickness.
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